Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The BMW Post


Alright, so let's talk ze Germans again. Seems appropriate right now, what with Frankfurt going on and all (more Frankfurt pictures tomorrow). This isn't going to be chronological, this will be... Favoritological! (It's Latin, trust me)

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1. 1995-1997 F1 GTR/LM: Okay, so it's technically a McLaren (British), but it has a BMW engine in it, was raced by factory BMW, and is claimed by BMW. The LM refers to the Le Mans victory in 1995 and only 6 were built - five sold and one prototype. The GTR is the car that actually won Le Mans, many of which have been slightly modified to drive on the road legally. The LM gets to 60 in 2.9 seconds. The LM gets to 60 in 2.9 seconds. 28 GTRs were built and dear God... these may be the most beautiful melding of lust and technology yet created. I have been in love with these for years now.

F1 GTR Le Mans Results:

1995: 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 13th. 2 DNF. Reliability beat speed again. Who would have thunk it?

1996: 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 11th. 1DNF.

1997: 2nd, 3rd. 3 DNF.

1998: 4th. 1 DNF.

So let's review now. A road-legal car won Le Mans. Not only that, but it finished in the top five for four straight years against factory prototype cars such as: Porsche 911 GT1, Nissan R390 GT1, Panoz Esperante GTR-1, Ferrari 333 SP, Toyota GT-One, Toyota/SARD MC8-R, Porsche WSC-95, Honda NSX GT1, Mercedes-Benz CLK-LM (GTR), BMW V12-LM, and the Lotus Elise GT-1. Privateer prototype teams beat were Courage, Riley & Scott, Kudzu, Welter, Kremer, and Deborah. They were placed a class above the Porsche 911, the Nissan GT-R LM, the Chrysler Viper, the Ferrari F40, the Jaguar XJ 220, the Callaway Corvette, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, the Lister Storm, the Toyota Supra, the Saleen Mustang RRR, and the Marcos Mantara LM600 - all other road cars transformed for racing. That, my friends, is purely and utterly legendary.


2. 1956-1959 BMW 507: This car isn't German. It's too curvy. It's too cool and not prickish or vanilla enough. In short, this car is too beautiful to ever come from Germany. This was BMWs attempt to take some 300SL Gullwing prestige away from Mercedes, to get part of that German sports-car market. 252 were built, and two prototypes, but it almost killed BMW - they lost money on every car. While the 300SL was 10% of Mercedes' sales, this was a drop in the bucket - a very expensive drop in the bucket. Fortunately for BMW, an investor, the BMW 700, the BMW Isetta, and the New Class (1500) came along to save it. But still, that BMW 507 is my favorite, wholly BMW car.


3. BMW 2002tii (Turbo E20): Based on the beautiful BMW 1500 "New Class," this body was gorgeous. The car saved BMW from bankruptcy and, ultimately, gave us one of the most modifiable cars of all time. When thinking of a modifiable car, most think of a Hyundai something-or-other that's been lowered, has a huge, decorative, useless spoiler, stickers, and some 18 year old wanker at the wheel. This car, on the other hand, decided to be beautiful out the door so modifications mostly occurred in the engine bay and wheel-wells. The 2002tii version was BMW's first turbo. It gives you 170 horsepower in a car weighing 2,200 pounds, and only 13.83 feet long (166 inches). This is what I love about the 2002tii: beauty, function, modifiability through simplicity, but most of all, pure driving pleasure. Mechanical grip, direct steering, no ABS brakes - in short, it is small, light, fast, and handles as well as it looks - beautifully. This is what I want out of a car today. Not computers. In this I feel like me, the car, and the road are all one being, working together towards one purpose: and having fun is so easy to attain. This is what I wish automakers would give us today - like the Miata.


4. BMW 328: Awww Yeah! The only surprise here is that it isn't higher up on the list. Kurt Joachimson penned a car that was not only brilliantly beautiful, but technically splendid. With it's hemispherical engine and tubular space frame it was fast beyond belief: it took class in the Mille Miglia in 1938, then won in 1940 and 2004, in 1939 it won the RAC rally and took class at Le Mans. Yet, the car retains it's sophisticated beauty, punctuated by the leather straps holding the hood on, the elegant curves to the rear end, and, above all, that front end is just to die for. Okay, so not sophisticated, but stripped down - with style.


5. BMW M1: Again, not German. Actually, Lamborghini had a hand in this one. From 1978 to 1981 these cars were hand-built. These were race-cars that you could drive, uncomfortably, down the street. Mid-engined, powerful, and the 1984 Group B champion, this car was on top. They even had Andy Warhol paint one of them.


6. BMW 2000CS: Take a 2002, decide to make a coupe, and then hire Karmann to do the body work - that's how you make a BMW 2000CS. The front end is hideous, the interior is, at best, 1970s luxury, and the car has a wee little engine in it. But I love it because of it's quirks. Because of it's failings.


7. BMW M3 (E36 + E46): This car, I hope you realize, I have to put on here.

I hate this car because: I hate the people who drive it. I hate that it's so damn good. I hate that there's too many computers. I hate that I don't feel connected with the roadway. I hate that it's a wholly vanilla design - even for the vanilla obsessed 1990s. I hate that this car looks like every other BMW. I would want people who don't know cars to know that I've got an M3.

I love this car because: It is in a league of its own. It may very well be the greatest car ever created - even I have to admit that. It's hideous but it goes faster than all hell. Everything beneath the vanilla exterior is perfect: chassis, suspension, engine, drive-train, and whatever else goes into a car that I don't understand. All I know is this works, and it works damn well. I just wish every business-school ex-frat-boy didn't have one of these. Go buy Audi's, assholes, leave us the M3!

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And there you have it. That is a list of cars that I like from BMW. Now can I just say, for the record, that I hate the Germans? They make good cars, without, sigh, passion *Clink* and soul *Clink*. They're too vanilla to really fall in love with. Only when they do things totally wrong can they be loved. Or when they get somebody else to design their cars. Perhaps someday soon I'll actually talk about car-companies I adore.

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